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Soccer is the Game, Developing Leaders is the Game Plan – Celebrating at Disney Cup International

posted on July 23rd, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


“At the end of the day they don’t remember the scores….. I want them to remember the experience, I want them to remember the feeling.” With that belief at the center of his coaching, Steven Horwood of the Ajax Football Club from Ontario, Canada, has led his team to victory both on and off the pitch. The majority of his team has played together since they were 8-years-old, and now playing in their final season together, Horwood thought the Disney Cup International, Presented by AS Roma was the right thing to do for all they have accomplished.

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Ajax Football Club was one of 239 teams, more than 3,500 players, representing 18 countries, to play in the tournament. Teams from Canada, South America, Aruba and as far away as Australia came to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort to test their skill against international competition.

But before stepping on the plane to come to Disney, before the kick-off whistle blew for their first game, Ajax FC was already a winner when it came to international sportsmanship.

For more than seven years these young women have volunteered more than 3,000 hours in their community helping others. The most notable program has them literally giving away the jerseys off their backs. Through the SOS Children’s Village program the team donates jerseys and soccer equipment to kids in Ghana, Africa. To date they have donated more than 300 uniforms, and expect to send another 200 after the tournament at Disney, as well as some other Disney keepsakes.

“Soccer is the sport but we really wanted to make them community leaders,” said coach Horwood. Helping fellow teammates in Africa is rewarding and raises their awareness of the world around them. Recently the girls received photographs of kids in Africa wearing their jerseys and playing with their equipment. “Growing up soccer has been kind of a lifestyle for me, something I really enjoy, giving the chance to give other kids in Africa the chance to play is fulfilling,” said Ajax FC defensive back Lauren Pugh.

On behalf of everyone at Disney Soccer and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, I want to congratulate Ajax FC for their hard work on and off the pitch. Win or lose, we celebrate the fact you have all scored one of the most important goals of your lives.

For more information on Disney Cup International and other Disney Soccer events, visit espnwwos.com.

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Meet ESPN Talent During the Inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Convention at Walt Disney World

posted on July 15th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Nothing says “fall” like tailgate parties, chili cook-offs and, of course, football season. On August 22-23, you can officially kick-off sport’s greatest season of the year with ESPN‘s inaugural Fantasy Football Convention, taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The first-of-its-kind event features unprecedented access to ESPN talent including Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Sara Walsh, Mark Schlereth, Stephania Bell, Tim Hasselbeck and more!

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Start things off with an epic Tailgate Party, where you can mix and mingle with ESPN talent and be a judge in the first-ever ESPN Chili Bowl. Decorated Disney Chefs from around the world will serve up their best creations for a chance at this prestigious award. The next morning, you’ll have breakfast with some of your favorite characters decked out for the gridiron.

Ever wonder what it’s like behind-the-scenes of an ESPN studio show? You’ll get the chance to find out, as the Convention includes a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now. The event finale features the opportunity to take part in a live fantasy football draft. Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a long-time veteran, you’ll get the chance to pick your teams with the help of ESPN Fantasy

Experts roaming the floor. And best yet, season winners of leagues created during the Convention will receive a customized trophy. Talk about bragging rights!

For more information on the inaugural Fantasy Football Convention at Walt Disney World Resort and to register, click here.

Who’s ready for some football?

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runDisney is ‘Glowing’ About The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend Medals

posted on June 30th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


If you are one of the more than 16,000 runners ‘dropping in’ to participate in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend, October 3-4, at Walt Disney World Resort, then we have a little motivation to help you with your training.
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From the youngest runners in the runDisney Kids Races to the most experienced runners in the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and the 10-Miler, we often hear, “it’s all about the ‘bling’.” With that in mind, we are excited to share what waits for you at the finish lines of this year’s events.
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There will be no tricks, just treats when kids receive the Halloween-inspired Donald Duck medallion for participating in the diaper dash, 100m, 200m 400m and 1-Mile races.
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Be careful of hitchhiking ghosts if you are participating in the Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run. New this year, the medallion glows in the dark!
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And nothing can be more fitting than the 2014 The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler medal, featuring The Hollywood Tower Hotel. Not only does this medal glow in the dark, the elevator moves up and down.

Now, if you are not running race weekend or just hearing about runDisney, I invite you to check out runDisney.com, register for an upcoming event and put a little ‘bling’ around your neck.

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NFL Superstar Drew Brees Takes The Field At ESPN Wide World of Sports

posted on June 27th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


“Who Dat” at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort? Well “Dat” is Drew Brees, eight time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.

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This week Brees called the sports complex home as more than 300 high school athletes from across the country participated in the exclusive Drew Brees Passing Academy. These young athletes had the opportunity to learn from Brees and train with other NFL superstars such as Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals), Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles) and Darrelle Revis (New England Patriots). Participants were exposed to new training techniques for conditioning and performance, and then participated with team members in a two-day 7-on-7 Tournament. Proceeds from the Drew Brees Passing Academy and 7-on-7 Tournament benefit The Brees Dream Foundation, established in 2003 to help cancer patients with quality care and education for children and families.

Here is a look at the amazing experience these high school athletes enjoyed.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex allows athletes of all ages and skill levels to compete and celebrate like the pros do; whether they go on to collegiate/professional fame or not, every athlete takes with them lessons learned that shapes their character, personal and professional development. Brees joins a long list of elite athletes such as Kerri Walsh Jennings, Casey Powell and several English Premiere League soccer players, that come to the complex to create unforgettable experiences with young athletes.

If you are interested in more information on the Drew Brees Passing Academy or ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, visit espnwwos.com.

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“I’m a Runner, I’m a Champion” – I runDisney

posted on June 20th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


“I run to prove what I can do and who I am.” Most of us would expect a strong statement like that to come from an adult but it didn’t. That statement came from one of the most courageous runners I have met, 11-year-old Sarah Kate Sligh from Fairhope, AL.

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Spending time with Sarah Kate you quickly realize she is just a normal little girl. She loves her family, spends time with her little brother, plays tag with friends and enjoys school. But what hundreds of people witnessed at the finish line of the runDisney 1-Mile Kids Race at the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was nothing short of amazing.

As I mentioned, Sarah Kate is a runner. She belongs to the running club at school, trains with her mother and participates in races. What you will be surprised to learn is she does all of this while living with Cerebral Palsy. A neurological disease making walking difficult and running almost impossible – almost!

Sticking to her motto, “Finish strong, never stop,” Sarah Kate took on the challenge of the 1-mile run. Starting out strong she will be the first to admit her legs got tired and started to hurt. With her wheelchair always close by, she never once thought about sitting down. As the finish drew close and the crowd cheered her on, Sarah Kate responded by picking up the pace. Pushing her own wheelchair to steady herself, she crossed the finish line. A victory for Sarah Kate, a victory for everyone watching.

Not dwelling on what she can’t do, Sarah Kate focuses on what she can do. Her message, “ If you want to do something just go for it and don’t let anything stand in your way, and just finish strong.”

If you have been looking for inspiration to start a healthy active lifestyle and participate in a runDisney event, or needing motivation to push through long training runs, then please take a few minutes to watch Sarah Kate’s story. If she can do it, we all can!

Sarah Kate, you are a champion.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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I runDisney for ‘Dad Time’

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Matt Swartz of Gilbert, AZ, one particular photo translates into two words, “life changing.”

As with the majority of runners, Swartz began running for for health and fitness, and wanted to lose weight. A life change ignited with the snap of a camera. What started as a commitment to his son to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for his 17th birthday, turned into a passion for running.

Through healthy eating and exercise, Swartz lost 150 lbs over a two-year period. Losing the weight not only allowed him to summit the mountain with his son, but along the way he fueled his daughters passion for running and they joined him on his journey. What began as exercise turned into something greater and more precious, “dad time.”

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Earlier this year Swartz’s daughter, Emmalie, asked him to run the Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort. “And what’s a dad going to do? Of course you’re going to run the Princess,” Swartz said. With an agreement that he could wear a tutu, the father – daughter team was off and running.

Take a moment to watch this inspiring journey of weight loss, newfound love of life and family and of course finishing the Princess Half Marathon.

I invite you to visit runDisney.com and find an event to start your journey to a healthy active lifestyle.

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#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload your story, visit irundisney.com.

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Youth Soccer Team Scores Trip to Brazil at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on May 30th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Nearly 600 teams from across the country took to the fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort for the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout presented by Danimals. The three-day competition is one of the largest youth tournaments in the country.

For 18 U12 teams playing in the Dannon Division, the stakes were a little higher than just trying to win a championship. These teams were playing in the Danone Nations Cup US Qualifying Tournament. The winning team receives an all expense trip to Brazil later this year following the World Cup, to compete against 39 other nations for an international championship.

The championship game on Memorial Day featured two teams from Florida, Jacksonville FC v. Weston FC. After a tough defensive battle and a scoreless first half, Jacksonville scored on a penalty kick late in the second half to edge out Weston 1-0.

At ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex we strive to provide youth athletes the chance to enjoy a professional experience and now these young boys will have the experience of a lifetime. The chance to represent U.S.A. in Brazil is a dream come true for Jacksonville FC.

From all of us at Disney Sports, good luck Jacksonville FC!

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ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort hosts more than 350 events a year on more than 230-acres. It is the premier site for amateur sport in the nation and has hosted more than 70 different sports and athletes from around the world. For more information on Disney soccer tournaments and other sporting events, visit espnwwos.com.

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Behind the Scenes With America’s Funniest Home Videos at Walt Disney World

posted on May 16th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


What do you get when you combine Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto, Dopey, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Tom Bergeron? You get one of the funniest season finales of America’s Funniest Home Videos, and we have the pictures to prove it.

Recently the hit TV show wrapped up its 24th season with the taping of the grand prize award show at Walt Disney World Resort. Now I won’t ruin the surprise and tell you who wins the Disney Parks Vacation Grand Prize, but I will share behind the scenes photos of Bergeron showing his goofy side, his dark side, his Disney Side.

Behind the Scenes With America’s Funniest Home Videos at Walt Disney World

Be sure to catch more of Tom Bergeron’s #DisneySide and find out who wins the grand prize when the season finale of America’s Funniest Home Videos airs Sunday, May 18, at 7|6c on ABC.

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In ‘The Middle’ of the Heck Family Vacation at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 14th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


What the heck are the Hecks doing at Walt Disney World Resort? Well we can’t tell you how they got here or how the family vacation turns out, but we can give you the inside scoop and a behind-the-scenes look at why they were here.

In 'The Middle' of the Heck Family Vacation at Walt Disney World Resort

For the first time in show history, producers of “The Middle” packed their suitcases and took the show on the road for the Season Five finale. That’s right, a real Heck family vacation. With a few twists and turns, the entire cast and production crew made their way to Magic Kingdom Park for five days of shooting.

Showing their “Disney Side,” cast members enjoyed meeting their favorite Disney characters, enjoying adventurous rides and eating their way around the park. It was a chance to get out of the studio and meet fans.

This video shows some of the fun cast and crew had in front of the camera and behind the scenes. And you won’t want to miss this hilarious Heck family vacation when “The Middle” season finale airs on Wednesday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m.|7:00 p.m. (CDT) on ABC.

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I runDisney For My Daughter, I Race For a Cure

posted on May 9th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


She runs because her daughter can’t. She runs to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome. She runs Disney to find a cure and to one day hear her daughter say, “I love you mommy.”

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Allison Foley of Orange County, Calif., runs for a cause. She runs for her daughter and hundreds of other daughters across the country who suffer from a heart breaking disease. In 2003, Emma Foley was born a happy beautiful baby girl, but in 2005 dreams were shattered when she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. The disease takes away her ability to talk, to use her hands and her ability to walk without assistance. Running with the Girl Power 2 Cure team, Allison joined other families to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort to raise awareness for the disease.

After the half marathon Allison said, “this was the most fantastic run of my life.” No Allison, your “best” run is yet to come, that will happen the day Emma runs by your side. Believe.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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